Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cine lenses for DSLRs from Carl Zeiss

We all know DSLRs are changing the way productions are being done.  Now there are some cine style lenses being made for them!  Not sure on price yet but they sound like they will be available in June!

Sounds like there well be set of primes from 18-85  and a zoom lenses.  The big gotchya is the lenses (maybe just the zoom lenses) cover the APS-C sensor size so cameras like the 5DmkII you'll get a cropped image.

check out the link and press released covered on DPREVIEW.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quantum Film? whoa?

Here is an article from

Quantum film threatens to replace CMOS image chips

PORTLAND, Ore. — Just as photographic film was mostly replaced by silicon image chips, now quantum film threats to replace the conventional CMOS image sensors in digital cameras. Made from materials similar to conventional film—a polymer with embedded particles—instead of silver grains like photographic film the embedded particles are quantum dots. Quantum films can image scenes with more pixel resolution, according to their inventors, InVisage Inc., offering four-times better sensitivity for ultra-high resolution sensors that are cheaper to manufacture.

to read the rest of the article go here!

HDR Aquisition - Pano Head Setup

Before we begin.  Sorry this post has taken so long to finish.  Life gets in the way!  Enjoy!

Part of the art and science of taking good panoramic imagery is stitching together multiple images with as little parallax shift as possible.  This means you need to align the nodal point/entrance pupil around the center of your rotation axis of the panoramic head.

Most everyone I know refers to this "no-parallax" point of the lens as the "nodal point" but while writing this entry I have found that this is actually called the Entrance Pupil.   Here's a little bit of a cut and paste from that wikipedia entry.
The geometric location of the entrance pupil is the vertex of the camera's angle of view[1] and consequently its center of perspective, perspective point, view point, projection centre[2] or no-parallax point[3]. When the optical system is physically rotated about its entrance pupil, the perspective geometry of its image does not change. In panoramic photography, for example, it is important to rotate or pivot the camera about its entrance pupil in order to avoid parallax errors in the final, stitched panorama[4][5]. Depending on the lens design, the entrance pupil location on the optical axis may be behind, within or in front of the lens system; and even at infinite distance from the lens in the case of telecentric systems.
Ok now you know what then entrance pupil is what next.  Lets calibrate our Nodal Ninja.  The Nodal Ninja like most panoramic rigs operate in a similar manner.  You have to align your camera in 2 different axis in order to have your camera in the proper position on the pano head.
A. Align the center of your lens with the center rotation axis of your panoramic head.

We'll call this adjustment the left-right adjustment.  First mount the camera on the Horizontal arm.  Rotate the horizontal arm until the camera is pointed directly down at the center rotational point of the pano head.  Now adjust the "left-right" of the vertical arm until the lens is directly over the center rotational point.  It is sometimes easier to put a longer lens on the camera so you can see the center of the rig a big better.  Once you have this properly adjusted for your camera this setting will never change no matter what lens you have on the camera.

If this isn't correctly aligned you will get a broken image at the nadir point of a stitched panoramic.

John Houghton explains this very well.
An indication that the lateral position is not quite right is a broken, sawtooth edge to the head at the nadir in a stitched panorama (an unpatched nadir, of course).  The example on the right is a typical example:
The top of the head looks somewhat like a circular saw. In this case, the "teeth" are set for cutting with a clockwise rotation of the saw.  This indicates that the entrance pupil is offset to the left of the pano head axis, as viewed from the back of the camera, so the camera needs to be shifted a little to the right. If the saw is set for cutting with a counter-clockwise rotation, then the camera needs to be shifted to the left. (image to the right is from John's site) 

B. Align the entrance pupil of your lens with the center rotation axis of your panoramic head.
Next we will align the front back position of the camera on the horizontal arm.  A simple way to do this is to line up two vertical items.  Place one close to camera and the second item further way.  From a center framed position these two items should appear to be stacked on top of each other.  Rotate the camera to the left and right about 20-30 degrees.  When rotated the two items will be in exactly the same position if the camera is aligned.  If the two items do not appear to be "stacked" on top of each other, then simply adjust the forward or back position camera until the items are aligned.

Fisheye Considerations
John Houghton also notes that you need to be aware the entrance pupil for a fisheye is not centered on a single point.  Basically he says that you want to adjust your entrance pupil to correspond with the angle your stitch.  He also notes that this will compromise the accuracy of your zenith and nadir points, but stitching software is usually good enough to fix it.  Check out his site for the full explanation.

Now your probably wondering why bother with both axis when shooting with a fisheye?  You could easily use a simpler rig like the Nodal Ninja 180.  With the NN180 you only align the entrance pupil on one axis and not two.  Wouldn't this be easier on set?

This is true.  But using a panoramic head designed specifically a fisheye limits you to just using a fisheye.  The NN5 allows you do use any lens.  And depending on the lens used you get a significantly higher resolution final panoramic than one created using a fisheye lens.  If you need to capture a high resolution sky or cityscape your in trouble if you only have a fisheye rig.  End of the day if you have the extra coin to buy multiple rigs... go for it!  They happily sell you more than one, but for me one rig that can do both is a bit more cost effective.

Taking your time at this step will result in panoramas that take minutes to stitch together.  And the team back at the office will love you for it!  In fact they may pick you up on their shoulders and parade you around the office, like the hero that you are!

Next time, lets shoot some pictures!

Here is a quick resource list that I came across in my research for this entry.  These guys have put together some very good sites which inspired me while writing this blog entry.

Michel Toby's website - Finding the No-Parallax Point
The Nodal Point (This has a very cool laser plotted graph of a sigma 8mm lens's entrance pupil)
Nodal Ninja website
Digital Grin (nodal point tutorial)
The Really Right Stuff
Big Ben's Panoramic Tutorials
The "Grid" tutorial

Monday, March 8, 2010

7D BNC-R,PL mount and Stereo rig from Syndicate

Pretty Interesting stuff!  Looks like it was a one of a kind.... read more and find out

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Panasonic 3D camcorder, Mixer, and Field monitor

Panasonic put a price tag to their upcoming 3d camera, 3d capable mixer, and 3d field monitor!

check out the link on engadget!

p.s. I've been crazy busy lately but I'm going to finish the HDR setups soon!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sony Announces devlopment of new Single Lens 3d Camera

This looks pretty cool.

Buttery smooth 3d and frame rates up to 240 fps!  Here's the cut and paste...  or the original link.

This technology combines a newly developed optical system for single lens 3D camera which captures the left and right images simultaneously, together with existing high frame rate (HFR) recording technology to realize 240fps 3D filming. Sony will demonstrate a prototype model incorporating this technology at "CEATEC JAPAN 2009", to be held at Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba city, Japan, from October 6th.
In existing half mirror 3D camera systems with separate lenses for the left and right eyes, the parallax range is adjustable, enabling the depth of the 3D images to be modified. However, when operating the zoom and focus functions of such systems, the sensitivity of the human eye, in particular to differences in the size and rotational movement of dual images, as well as any vertical misalignment or difference in image quality has meant that complex technology has been required to ensure that each camera lens is closely coordinated, and there are no discrepancies in the optical axis, image size, and focus. The introduction of a single lens system resolves any issues that may occur as a result of having different optical characteristics for each eye.
Optical system for single lens 3D camera
Optical system for single lens 3D camera
Furthermore, by using mirrors in place of shutters, incoming light can now be simultaneously separated into left and right images and recorded as it reaches the parallel light area (the area where diverging light from the point of focus on the subject matter becomes parallel) of the relay lens. The separated left and right images are then processed and recorded with the respective left and right image sensors. As there is no difference in time between when the left and right eye images are captured, it is possible for natural and smooth 3D images to be captured, even of scenes involving rapid movement. Optical tests have shown that a frame rate 240fps represents the limit of human visual perception, and beyond that it becomes difficult to detect differences in terms of blur and "jerkiness" of moving images (where images that were continuous are now seen as a series of distinct snapshots). By developing a 240fps frame rate CMOS image sensor with properties close to the human eye, which is capable of capture natural images of even fast moving subject matter, Sony has succeeded in enhancing the quality of 3D video images.

The combination of Sony's new single lens 3D system and its 240fps high frame rate technology has realized a single lens 3D camera system, based on universal properties of the human eye, which enables natural and smooth 3D images with no accommodation-vergence conflict to be recorded.
Technological Features:
1. New single lens optical system
- Captures left and right images simultaneously to deliver natural and smooth 3D images with no accommodation-vergence conflict.
- Eliminates the need for lens synchronization, ensuring easily accurate control of 3D zoom and focus functions.
- When polarized glasses are not used, viewers with still be able to see natural 2D images, as the disparity of the images for left and right eyes are within the range that human eyes can recognize as a blur.
2. 240fps image capture to realize high quality motion images
- Realizes high quality capture of 3D content including fast-moving subject matter such as sports.
Source: Sony

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

HDR Aquisition - Gear

First before we get into gear, we need to decide how you want to take your panoramic HDRs.  You can shoot an panoramic HDR with just about any lens.  It just depends on how much time you have to devote to shooting your complete data set.

Generally the longer the lens the more angles you'll need to take a complete panorama.  And that will increase your final overall compiled image resolution.  The wider the lens the fewer angles you need to take for a complete set but then you will have lower resolution compared to shooting with a longer lens.  Final resolution also depends on your camera's Megapixel size.

There are lots of different types of setups for shooting HDR panoramic environments.  Below is my current setup, and I will also go over some of the alternative gear available.

Since we are talking about on set data acquisition my setup is geared towards speed.  Thus I am using a wide angle lens.  In addition I put a my 24-105mm lens and shoot a non spherical pano with the same system outline below.  This is good for background plates where resolution is the key.

My Gear for Shooting panoramic HDRs on Set.
I would consider this a solid DSLR HDR panoramic setup.  This setup has a full frame censor and the 8mm fisheye lens can shoot an entire panoramic environment with just 3 angles (120 degrees apart).

If you have a cropped censor you can still use the utilize this lens but you will need to shoot 4 angles (90 degrees apart).  Sigma also makes a 4.5 mm fisheye lens designed specifically for cropped sensor DSLRs.  They make a variety of mounts for this lens to fit cameras from Canon, Nikon, Pentax,  and Sony.  The 4.5 mm fisheye will allow you to shoot a full panoramic just like a Full Framed DSLR in just 3 angles.

With my current setup I can shoot a full panoramic HDR in about 2-4 minutes depending on the on set lighting conditions. 

There are few newer tools that will speed up this process.  One of them is the Promote Control System.  This device aims to increase the standard 3 images (+/- 2 EV) for Canon Cameras.  This system also works with Nikon cameras but some Nikon cameras have an advantage where their in camera auto bracketing takes up to 7-9 exposures.  The Canon 1Ds MkII/III is the only Canon camera the shoots an auto bracket sequence of more than 3 exposures.  It can shoots 7 (but who has $8k to spend on a camera!).

Check back as I will be reviewing the Promote Control system in the coming weeks.

Other Available HDR Panoramic Gear

If you have the deep pockets or your working on a big budget feature film you might want to check out some super custom imaging systems.  But if your pocket aren't overflowing with cash there is also some budget gear out there to get you started.
    • An all in one solution geared towards feature films.  This robust stem can be fired remotely meaning you can stick it in many places there it would be dangerous or impossible for a person to shoot an environment. (ex. on a Technocrane).  This system comes with a complete software package that will compile, log, and prep your HDR for import into Maya.  I believe this system is for rental only.
  • Spheron
    • The Spheron has been around a long time.  It's manufactured in Germany so it has to be good right?  This is a custom imaging system that shoots a full spherical HDR in one pass that has a dynamic range of 26 f-stops.  Like all systems I'm sure this one has a hefty price tag.  It also looks like Spheron has a service for capturing as well.. if you don't want to buy the system.
  • Panoscan
    • The Panoscan is another custom imaging system that has its optics designed for the camera from the ground up.  Some of this systems highlights (according to the website) a full scan takes 54 seconds.  Shoots in low light up to ISO 3200, Autowhite balance, accepts Mamiya, and Hasselblad lenses, and its unique magnetic slit cap improves image quality by blocking lens flares and reducing glare.  
    •  These guys demo their product for me a couple of year ago and it was very impressive and solidly designed.
  • Peace River
    • These guys make a ton of different products.  A standard pano head simular to the nodal ninja and they have a super robo automated panoramic head.  I have not used it my self,  but my good friend Eric Hanson over at xRez has been using their system for years.  I might have to swing by his shop and bring some beers to get hands on review for ya guys.
  • Ipix Products for consumer and DSLR cameras
    • Ipix has been around since 1989 and was one of the first companies to start doing 360 QTVR type stuff.  They carry Peace rivers' 3Sixty pano head but also offer lens and pano head for more consumer type cameras (Nikon P6000, P5000).
  • Panosarus
    • a budget pano head.
  • Manfrotto Pano head
    • One of the only "Big" camera accessory manufactures to get into the panohead business.  It is a solid head and does the job, but I cannot recommend it because of the complexety of its setup.  A previous company had one of these and basically it's great once it's setup and configured.. but I hope you have a good memory and some time if it needs to be assembled.
Lets not forget about tripods.  They are very important piece of the puzzle.  You don't need a crazy carbon fiber rig but if you got the cash spend some money on with with a self leveling ball head incorporated into the tripod like many of the Gitzos.

And lastly don't for get a good carrying cases and travel protection.  I love camera bags, but I have a lot of them.   But the one I use most is my Kata Rucksack.  I can jam my Camera, 8mm, 24-105mm, 16-35mm, my speedlight, battery charger, cleaning supplies, many cords and cables and I don't feel like I'm a hunch back with a big sign saying "MUG ME" i have lots of camera gear.

That's if for now... Next time we tackle the setup!  We'll configure out panohead, learn how to find the nodal point of any lens, and setup our camera.